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Discharge navigator: Implementation and cross-sectional evaluation of a digital decision tool for social resources upon emergency department discharge

Grade M, Stark N, Emanuels D, Lu A, Doshi J, Leung S, Peabody C
West J Emerg Med

INTRODUCTION: Many patients have unaddressed social needs that significantly impact their health, yet navigating the landscape of available resources and eligibility requirements is complex for both patients and clinicians. METHODS: Using an iterative design-thinking approach, our multidisciplinary team built, tested, and deployed a digital decision tool called "Discharge Navigator" ( that helps emergency clinicians identify targeted social resources for patients upon discharge from the acute care setting. The tool uses each patient's clinical and demographic information to tailor recommended community resources, providing the clinician with action items, pandemic restrictions, and patient handouts for relevant resources in five languages. We implemented two modules at our urban, academic, Level I trauma center. RESULTS: Over the 10-week period following product launch, between 4-81 on-shift emergency clinicians used our tool each week. Anonymously surveyed clinicians (n = 53) reported a significant increase in awareness of homelessness resources (33% pre to 70% post, P<0.0001) and substance use resources (17% to 65%, P<0.0001); confidence in accessing resources (22% to 74%, P<0.0001); knowledge of eligibility criteria (13% to 75%, P<0.0001); and ability to refer patients always or most of the time (11% to 43%, P<0.0001). The average likelihood to recommend the tool was 7.8 of 10. CONCLUSION: Our design process and low-cost tool may be replicated at other institutions to improve knowledge and referrals to local community resources.

Grade M, Stark N, Emanuels D, et al. Discharge navigator: implementation and cross-sectional evaluation of a digital decision tool for social resources upon emergency department discharge. West J Emerg Med. 2022;23(5):637-643. DOI:10.5811/westjem.2022.5.55015. PMID: 36205681

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Publication year
Resource type
Peer Reviewed Research
Provider Experience of Care
Health Care Professionals
Study design
Pre-post without Comparison Group